Jury out on wisdom of rule changes

David Coulthard labelled the new rules in Formula One "ridiculous", Jenson Button was also scathing, and as the season kicked off in Melbourne at the weekend they were not alone in their opinions.

David Coulthard labelled the new rules in Formula One "ridiculous", Jenson Button was also scathing, and as the season kicked off in Melbourne at the weekend they were not alone in their opinions.

The new qualifying system, with one session on Saturday afternoon and a second on Sunday morning, the aggregated times deciding the grid, provoked a mixed response.

Saturday's session calls for teams to run flat-out with low fuel loads, so everyone gets a sense of where they fit in on sheer speed. On Sunday they run with their race fuel, so again everyone gets a reasonable idea of the strategy rivals are planning.

The changeable Melbourne weather on Saturday created an unusual grid, which helped determine the race outcome - Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella won with Michael Schumacher an also-ran. But it also rendered Sunday's session academic since the gaps between drivers were so large. More evidence is needed before judgement can be made on the qualifying changes.

Then there is the rule that says teams must use the same engine for two race weekends. At least, that is what it should say, but this is Formula One. If an engine has to be changed before the race, the driver will be penalised 10 grid places, as happened to Michael Schumacher and Takuma Sato in Melbourne. But if an engine breaks during a race, it may be replaced without penalty.

In a ludicrous "refinement", team principals agreed on Sunday morning that you did not actually have to break an engine in the race to instal a new one for next time. Say you had the awful race BAR-Honda had, when Jenson Button and Takuma Sato had no chance of points, you could call in your drivers in the closing laps, and still be classified as finishers. "The two-weekend engine rule is to cut teams' operating costs," one observer said, "and penalise unreliability. This seems an odd way of doing that."

Felipe Massa thinks the characteristics of Malaysia's Sepang track will promote "a lot more overtaking" in the next grand prix on 20 March. Let us hope so. The jury is out, but the verdict is likely to be that Formuala One's powerbrokers have a lot more tweaking to do.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific